The Future of Privacy

When my mother was my age, the idea of carrying a tiny phone anywhere with you was inconceivable. Sure, the craze of the mobile phone was slowly developing as clunky things rich people could have in their cars, but the age we live in now has thrown all of the “expected” out the window.

We live in a world where nothing is impossible, an age of electric cars, Apple TVs, iphones, the internet like never seen before and in my opinion a society on the brink of a second industrial revolution. These new advances, however, bring into question the idea of privacy. We have immediate access to almost anything at the click of a button, which includes information about people we don’t even know with little effort. To those who have never experienced a world without these amenities, myself included, it seems normal for people we’ve never met to have access to much of our personal information, even access to contact us from the other side of the world with ease. My grandparents are just now trying to get the hang of cellphones and social media, and at first I found their skepticism highly amusing. I’m sure others would agree with me. But I think we’ve been too hard on our grandparents. My grandmother was born in 1930, living through the Great Depression and World War II, she collected nuclear bomb-testing data from an underground bunker in Utah. It’s safe to say she wasn’t wondering how she could share a photo of herself on a global platform and which filter to use.

My point is, is that skepticism from older generations isn’t entirely uncalled for. I find it interesting that as a society we are more comfortable with the idea of putting so much of ourselves into the void so cavalierly. Advertising has always catered to the technology available at the time, and with an overabundance of technological innovation, the industry has a lot to choose from. Live streaming, for example is the next platform that is predicted to be a hub for the next wave of advertising and marketing.

I’m all for innovation, and reaching people on a platform they are likely to use — I wouldn’t be in this career field if I didn’t support the ideas that shape us as a society — but the idea of privacy continues to get more touchy. Perhaps this is me being the “grandmother” of my time, skeptical of this new technology and the potential for negative/questionable content with its all-the-more personal interaction. But the thing that I question about privacy and live streaming is regulation. Rules and regulations for this new frontier of content and advertising have not yet been written, and we live in a vicarious time of transition as that is discovered. People of my generation did not have to live through the transition time of the internet and computers as they smoothed out those first wrinkles. My parents did, and were understandably somewhat paranoid of the internet and its possibilities and what I may be exposed to by stumbling around the internet.

This same paranoia could be applied to live streaming. Just yesterday I was speaking to my sister and she said she’d turned off notifications for when people on Instagram started live feeds after running into, let’s just say highly uncomfy footage. Now, obviously, there are always drawbacks to new technology, an up to a down, etc. However, with the constant existence of ethical controversy in relation to advertising, I would say that agencies and companies who choose to dive into the world of live streaming as a viable medium need to proceed with caution in order to avoid being represented by an audience they can’t necessarily anticipate beyond secondary and primary research.

The future of advertising and technology is bright and exciting, and it’s up to us as advertisers to navigate this new frontier with full knowledge of its potential, both positive and negative.